An American Crime (2007)

An American Crime (2007)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

An American Crime Photos

Movie Info

A seemingly ordinary housewife and the mother of seven, imprisons a beautiful teenager, who has been left in her charge, in the basement of her Indiana home.
R (for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Catherine Keener
as Gertrude Baniszewski
Ellen Page
as Sylvia Likens
Ari Graynor
as Paula Baniszewski
Nick Searcy
as Lester Likens
Michael O'Keefe
as Rev. Bill
Romy Rosemont
as Betty Likens
Jeremy Sumpter
as Coy Hubbard
Evan Peters
as Ricky Hobbs
Bradley Whitford
as Prosecutor
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News & Interviews for An American Crime

Critic Reviews for An American Crime

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (2)

Tragic tale of child abuse fails to make any sense of the crime.

January 19, 2007
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Not even the considerable talents of lead thesps Catherine Keener and Ellen Page can alleviate the artistic nullity that is An American Crime.

Full Review… | January 17, 2007
Top Critic

By instead focusing more on the character of Gertrude Baniszewski, the film relegates Sylvia Likens to a cypher with no real identity - she's simply a vessel for abuse.

Full Review… | September 2, 2010
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Um projeto que encara a desgraça alheia como mero trampolim para o entretenimento.

Full Review… | August 22, 2008
Cinema em Cena

If Eli Roth were to direct a Lifetime movie, it might look something like An American Crime.

Full Review… | August 18, 2008
Slant Magazine

i katalytika akadimaiki eksistorisi toy, poy problimatizei me tin idiazoysa sadistiki tis hroia stin parathesi sokaristikon skinon bias dihos peraitero diereynisi toys, afinei to myalo soy na kykloforei kai na kanei syndeseis mono toy, me ton idio tropo p

Full Review… | May 15, 2008
Movies for the Masses

Audience Reviews for An American Crime

three stars

MisterYoda ?
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

Based on a true story from the 1960s this film tells the tragic tale of a young girl being tortured and held captive by a family for a months. Setting the court hearings as the frame for the reconstruction of the terrible events the film does never show the cruel details of young Sylvia's misery, which doesn't lessen the more and more disturbing and gloomy impact on the viewer. The main perpetrator, Catherine Keener as a mother who's in over her head with six kids and no money, does not start out as a bad person, just someone who is slowly losing control over her life and her kid's future. How things could go so dire so quickly remains somewhat unexplained, which only increases the horror. Much scarier than the mum's horrible actions are all the people looking the other way or joining in because they are told to. The acting is accordingly intense. Only the dream sequence towards the end aims for cheap horror thrills and doesn't do justice to the film and the case. No fun film my any means, but a gloomy yet somewhat superficial look at the unexpected horrors behind family doors. For evil to succeed all it takes is good to look the other way.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


Being always curious to watch movies based on true story, it was but obvious that I was compelled to watch this movie. I read a part of the plot and then decided to go for it to know what happened to that girl (Sylvia Likens), why she suffered, how much and how long. Of course, this wasn't a documentary, so I didn't expect the exact depiction of the real life story. Yet it provided a generous amount of info, including a part of court transcriptions, about this tragic event. R.I.P. Sylvia Likens & R.I.H. all those who tortured her. [R.I.H. = Rot In Hell (just made it out; ain't sure whether such abbreviation exists currently.)]

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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